LAHORE, March 31: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz patron Nawaz Sharif, former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and their family members are still enjoying ‘extraordinary’ security protocol despite institution of an interim government in the province and clear directions of Punjab police chief for withdrawing such perks.
The ‘favour’ looks odder when seen in comparison to at least three key politicians from other parties who are getting ordinary escorts and security deployments.
Lahore police, however, couldn’t dare to withdraw extra vehicles and policemen assigned to the outgoing rulers despite acting IGP Khan Baig’s orders issued a few days ago for withdrawal of 50 per cent force and 25 per cent vehicles, sources privy to the development told Dawn. The issue was discussed in detail at meetings held at the Central Police Office a week ago, they added.
Police had been directed to extend only necessary protocol to the former PM Nawaz Sharif and ex-chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, keeping in view security threats to the VVIPs, the sources said.
The sources said some 1,000 policemen from the Lahore security division were still deployed at Jati Umra and Model Town residences of Sharif brothers while their families were using more than 38 vehicles.
Nawaz Sharif and his family members are retaining more than 20 official vehicles while Shahbaz and his family were using up to 18 vehicles.
Similarly, former senior advisor to chief minister Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa is still retaining one police vehicle while his son and ex-chief minister Sardar Dost Muhammad Khosa is having two escort vehicles.
However, four former ministers, including Rana Sanaullah, have returned escort vehicles and policemen to Lahore police.
Former prime minister and PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is retaining five vehicles, ex-chief minister Pervaiz Elahi four, while ex-prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has been give only two vehicles.
Similarly, as many as 19 official vehicles are escorting Caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi, out of which 10 were reserved for the security of his person and his family members.
Usually one official vehicle with four personnel is provided to a VVIP while the fuel cost is paid from Lahore police pool.
According to a source, the police officers concerned are reluctant to withdraw the extraordinary security protocol given to the PML-N leadership given the perception that the party might be back in the front seat at least in Punjab following upcoming lection.
The source said Shahbaz Sharif, in his last meeting with provincial bureaucracy, ‘warned’ the officer that he would return as the provincial chief executive after 60 days.
A police official said there was a small reduction in police deployment at Jati Umra Raiwind. He said after the institution of interim set-up six vehicles had been withdrawn from Sharif brothers’ security escort.
A senior police officer at the Central Police Office claimed 50 per cent of police force and vehicles had been withdrawn from PML-N leadership and their families.
He said police had no Standard Operating Procedures for security and protocol of VVIPs, but the IG could extend the security protocol of a VVIP as and when needed. He claimed the security protocol varied from person to person.
Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Amlish also claims withdrawal of 50 per cent personnel and 25 per cent vehicles from the Sharifs as per directions of the acting IG.
Lahore Security Division DIG Ahmad Mubarik Ahmad, when contacted, claimed just over 100 policemen had been left at Jati Umra while others had been withdrawn following directives of the authorities.
He said 150 policemen from the division had been deployed at the caretaker chief minister’s Syed Maratab Ali Road residence and the number could be increased up to 250.
When asked why former PM Nawaz Sharif was being still extended extraordinary deployment protocol as compared to other former premiers, he said he would follow the policy to be given by the new IGP.
He said out of 1,200 personnel, around 250 were already on static duties at offices and official residences of the CM at 90-Shahra-e-Quaid-i-Azam, 7/8 Club Road in GOR-1.